Andanar seeks justice for Maguindanao massacre victims

MANILA — A decade after the massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar on Saturday pinned hope that the victims and their families would get a favorable ruling from the court.

Andanar issued the statement, as he joined the nation in commemorating the 10th year of the gruesome crime in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

“Today, we remember and honor the victims of (the) Maguindanao Massacre, one of the deadliest attacks on journalists and the worst cases of election-related violence in the Philippines, which took 58 innocent lives in the name of political control by the Ampatuan clan,” he said.  “Ten years of delayed justice is intolerable and ignominious. We are hopeful that the law will prevail and the court will rule in favor of the victims’ families, putting an end to the injustice they have had to endure for years, as the decision on the case will be out soon.”

November 23 marks a decade when 58 people, including 32 journalists, were killed while they were on their way to the Commission on Elections’ local office to witness the filing of the candidacy of then Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu for the 2010 gubernatorial race.

The victims were allegedly mauled before their bodies were buried in shallow graves in Sitio Mahalay in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Datu Andal Ampatuan, the principal accused in the case, and 196 co-accused were charged with multiple murder cases. The accused allegedly wanted to preempt Mangudadatu’s bid for the 2010 gubernatorial post.

The long wait for justice will soon end as the Regional Trial Court is set to announce its verdict on the Maguindanao massacre case on or before December 20.

Andanar expressed hope that the ruling would bring closure to the tragedy.

“Again, we would like to continue to extend our sympathies to the families of the victims of this horrendous event. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they seek justice,” he said.

“The Duterte administration and the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) will continue to perform their duties so that instances where brutal killings, such as that in the Maguindanao Massacre, will not go unpunished for years or more so will never happen at all,” Andanar, PTFOMS co-chair, added.

He also vowed that the Duterte administration would work harder to avoid a repeat of ”appalling” and ”unjust” incidents, such as the Maguindanao Massacre case.

“We will work to prevent and put an end to attacks on journalists, who are simply fulfilling their obligations to disseminate truth and information to the public. In cases where they are harmed or killed, we will aim to deliver swift justice and make the perpetrators answer to the law,” he said.  Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA –